Lawyer-Client Relationship: A Humble Advice to Lawyers to take due caution in handling Clients’ Cases By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh
LAWYER-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP: A HUMBLE
As lawyers, we owe a very great responsibility to our clients, the duty which creates a very strong inter-personal relationship.
Nevertheless, it is also the duty of a lawyer to always be guided by the Rules of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners, 2007-herein after referred to as the RPC. Some of the occasions, which even make some lawyers to go to any extent-legal or illegal- to defend the interests of their clients in the course of their professional duties. The most surprising thing is that such lawyers end up being responsible for the illegal conducts which are not even justifiable under professional ethics. Some of these lawyers even get their practice licence withdrawn and or suspended, while some even get themselves prosecuted for criminal offence and imprisoned and they have nothing for themselves while their families have to bear the long pains and agony, while the client has the right to walk away and or secure the services of another lawyer. That is why this paper is written as a humble advice to lawyers including the writer, to take due caution in handling clients’ cases.
By the provisions of the RPC, Rule 1 is a leading code for lawyers which provides thus ‘A lawyer shall uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and shall not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner’.
Also, Rule 15(1) of the RPC has also laid down the foundation for every lawyer representing his client to do so within the bounds of the law.
The said Rule 15 provides thus 1. ‘In his representation of a client, a lawyer may refuse to aid or participate in conduct that he believes to be unlawful even though there is some support for an argument that the conduct is legal’. The remaining entire provisions of this Rule are also instructive to the facts that a lawyer is to represent his client within the bounds of the law. Therefore, lawyers have to understand and know that there is no justification under the law for them to represent and proffer defence in such manner that the RPC and or the law prohibits and whatever happens, they shall take responsibility for the outcome or at best, as an accomplice.
Furthermore, it is very important that lawyers should always remember that they are criminally responsible for their actions. More so, they should know that there are those who would feel very ashamed to see their husband or uncle or brother or father being disgraced for unprofessional conduct or criminal offence out of misconducts.
Also, today, there are cases occurring almost every day of lawyers being found in one way or the other to have in the course of representing their clients committed one misconduct or the other. It also embarrasses their family members in the public and they are stigmatized for the wrong their loved one i.e. lawyer, has done.
Furthermore, the most prevailing misconduct among these lawyers as of today is forgery as even reportedly complained about by the Chief Justice of Nigeria of recent. Some of these lawyers have been reported to have forged court’s judgment, other documents, among others.
It is hoped that having said all the above in this paper, as brief as this paper is, the reader as well as all lawyers would consider their actions in relation to their relationship with their clients by acting always within the bounds of the law, no matter what their client is ready to offer or what they are likely to benefit from such misconduct. Their integrity, image, molestation and stigmatization that their family members might likely suffer as a result of their misconduct should also be given a great consideration.